Re-imagining the workplace: Experience is an intricate phenomenon

Experience is an intricate phenomenon

Experience is a scientific phenomenon and all the truth we hold in our sensibility and world outlook is as a result of our story, what confronted us and how we reacted to it. I am deliberately using “reacted” and not responded because the two are different.

I know many feel insulted and demeaned when the claim is made that one needs training and a certain level of consciousness or awareness to respond to the issues of life as opposed to reacting. There is a lot more reaction in the world than responding and all this reaction is based on our experience and continues to create even more experience.

We are confronted with things in life that come in different forms. I was born during the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe and so I have a connection with camouflage. I remember my personal mastery coach helping me understand my connection with camouflage when she realised that I liked wearing it.

Well let me hasten to say that this was in South Africa where it is not outlawed. In South Africa one can wear camouflage without any problems with the law and so I did that a lot and I had a good collection of it in different pieces that included jackets, hats, caps, and pants. 

My personal mastery coach traced my love for it back to the days of the Zimbabwean war of liberation when the guerillas were the heroes of our time. Even when our relatives who survived the war came back home, they were honoured with celebrations. I specifically remember my uncle Kenneth’s welcome home party, how my father, who was his elder brother led in the dance that welcomed Uncle Kenneth. This experience planted seeds of memory in me that continued to influence how I dress and what I consider beautiful in garb.

Deepak Chopra, an Indian American author, and alternative medicine advocate, calls this whole phenomenon of making “choices” and acting, karmic episodes. He says even drinking a cup of coffee is a karmic episode that plants seeds of memory in a person. These seeds of memory become the seeds of desire and intention. Karma, memory, and desire are the software of your soul in your soul’s journey through cosmic time.

Sadly, there is a lot of unconsciousness in that regard. While Chopra says all these actions, or karmic episodes are a choice, one realizes that there is very little conscious choosing in most of this unless one comes to that realization and begins to practice responding as opposed to reacting.

One’s karmic or experience identity is to a large extent a reactionary one. This offends many because it suggests that we are not in control of our faculties. Well, not all of us but the denial itself of being unaware is a confirmation of not being in control.

This unconscious karmic or experience journey manifests in many ways most of which are negative, and someone finds themselves observing certain patterns in their trajectory they are not in control of and can argue vociferously that they are not responsible for.

This has seen many in Africa and maybe beyond seeking religious and spiritual interventions to address these manifestations. With the advent of prophetic ministries in religious spaces, there has also come deliverance as a big issue in churches where one presents these challenges, they neither understand about themselves nor feel responsible for. 

In the workplace, these patterns also find their way and some employees will show them wherever they go to work. They will move from one employer to another only to manifest the same patterns, what Chopra would call one’s karmic identity which for purposes of this article we are calling one’s experience and what they picked up in the form of memory as they interacted with the challenges of life.

An employee, for example may just manifest dismissals for various reasons. They will move from Employer A, B, C and D and suffer the same fate of dismissals as if they are bewitched. In fact, some do believe that they are bewitched and go out to seek spiritual or religious interventions. If these manifestations are not understood and undesirable, then it confirms, one way or the other our argument that we are not in control of our choices or rather we are not aware of the consequences of our reactions to the challenges of life and when we have such episodes, we leave with stamps of memory in our bodies that carry what we do not fully comprehend or desire consciously. We make choices unconsciously and carry memories we do not understand that go on to manifest, much to our chagrin and utter bemusement.

These issues in the workplace are dealt with through codes of conduct because, as a friend of mine once advised, in the workplace we are here to get “work” done. Most employers have no time to even be curious about repetitive patterns. They will just put you through a hearing and send you packing. The workplace has even created a system that sometimes keeps away such people. They will do reference checks to make sure they do not get employees who have displayed that wrong behaviour in other companies. They will reference check you to protect themselves from such employees and once there is any hint you have been a problem, they will not take chances. Maybe at the back of their minds they just think you need deliverance and not a job.

In some countries and maybe Zimbabwe and other African countries, some employers have become curious about the employee as a whole person and behavioural change specialists have come up with various tools to challenge an employee to become self-aware. If an employee needs self-awareness dear reader, does it not confirm our hunch that we are, to a large extent, not in control of our reactions to what we interact with out there and that we are not even aware of who or what we become as a result of these interactions?

There are many interventions now that we can view as attempts to take a human being in another direction regarding experience. There seems to be a growing interest in viewing an employee as someone who needs training not just in knowledge and skills but in attitude also and in re-experiencing life and work to give out their best.

This has not been welcomed by everyone in the circles I have been in as there are some that have viewed this as psycho analysing and one gets such rebuttals as ‘stop psycho analysing me because they feel like they are being subjected to a psychological study which suggests that they are not fully in control of their faculties when all this time they have lived as adults and made choices. Some feel offended religiously and think that it suggests their God is not in control if science is. They would rather be delivered than behaviour changed. Interesting hey? Let’s continue next week.

*Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery, and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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